Tough Times Ahead for Erik ten Hag’s Man United as They Gear Up to Face Tottenham

Tough Times Ahead for Erik ten Hag’s Man United as They Gear Up to Face Tottenham

Tottenham Hotspur appoint Ryan Mason as interim manager, face Manchester United in first game under new leadership

When Tottenham Hotspur host Manchester United on Thursday evening, they will do so with a new man in charge. Spurs announced the sacking of interim manager Christian Stellini on Monday afternoon, less than a month after full-time boss Antonio Conte suffered the same fate. The killer blow this time came at St James’ Park as Newcastle scored five times in the opening 21 minutes of an eventual 6-1 win.

Chairman Daniel Levy described the defeat as ‘devastating’ in a statement that confirmed the Italian’s departure and the appointment of Ryan Mason to take charge for the rest of the season. The former midfielder took charge for a brief spell last season, replacing Jose Mourinho, and will welcome Erik ten Hag to north London for his first game back.

United have unwittingly made a habit of kicking off the careers of new managers this season – this is the third occasion in which a manager has been shown the exit door days before facing the Reds, and neither of the previous two ended with a win.

“We have to be aware of that,” United manager Ten Hag admitted of the new manager effect before the game in February. “When Jesse Marsch was in the lead, it was clear how they play. Now it’s possible they change, it’s also possible they don’t change. I think we only will find out on the pitch tomorrow.

“But then we need good anticipation of that. The difference at that time [against Aston Villa] was when Emery came in they had a week, or maybe even longer, to prepare. And now they have not so much time to prepare.”

Preparing to face Mason’s Spurs on Thursday can at least offer something to work with, following that brief seven-game spell last season. Whether the 31-year-old keeps things as they are or opts for wholesale changes remains to be seen, but this is becoming a situation Ten Hag and United are used to.

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